[miningmx.com] – ANGLGOLD Ashanti said that dismissals and closures
were inevitable if the illegal strike action that swept across its South African mines
last week continued – a prospect that left the country’s mining industry on “a knife-
Speaking to media in an address that was also broadcast to employees, AngloGold
CEO Mark Cutifani conceded that the group was “. not in any form of constructive
dialogue’ with striking workers, which number 24,000 – the group’s entire South
African production which totalled 1.6 million ounces in the group’s 2011 financial year.
But he sketched a dire scenario of premature downsizing, a reduction in capital
spending and “tears’ for those who lost their jobs and had no chance of regaining
employment anywhere else. In national terms, South Africa would lose, he said.
A strike at AngloGold’s Kopanang mine was extended to all of its other operations on
September 25, with workers appearing to follow the lead of strike activity in the
country’s platinum sector where the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers
was ignored in favour of numerous informal labour groupings.
Cutifani estimated that the group was losing between 30,000 to 32,000 oz per week,
equal to some $55m in revenue.
“Clearly for South Africa’s gold sector, as for many others, there is a very clear trade-
off between investing in the sustainability of our business and employment,’ he said.
“If the current unprotected strike continues, it compounds risks of a premature
downsizing of AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations.’ AngloGold has set aside
some R3.5bn in capital spending on its South African mines in the 2012 financial year,
including extensions at Moab Khotsong and Mponeng.
He declined to say where the group’s production was most vulnerable to downsizing
first, but added that “anywhere that we have low-grade production. We have low-
grade production spread across our assets.’ The Savuka mine is thought to be one of
the mines that could be shut first in the event of an extended strike.
Cutifani added: “We do not intend to reward broken commitments [to the centralised
labour bargaining structure], violence and intimidation.’
In the meantime, AngloGold had asked the South African Police Services in “lengthy
discussions’ to use “minimal force’ while guaranteeing free, unhindered access by
employees to the mines.
He invited labour to begin a process of dialogue. “We are open to work and we are
open to dialogue,’ he said.